The Ridiculous Rules of Dating, According to Movies

·Contributor
'Anchorman' spoofs those overused love-story clichés seen all-too-often in movies (various)

The movies take a few creative liberties when it comes to portraying the process of romantic courtship, don't they?

To be fair, we can't expect cinema to be completely realistic when it comes to capturing all the complications and nuances that come with meeting someone, falling for that someone, fighting with that someone, breaking up with that someone, and eventually getting back together with that someone.

When you've got only a couple of hours to tell a love story, you have to take a few narrative shortcuts — and not all of them ring true. Here are the outlandishly unrealistic steps of courtship, according to movies:

1. Fall in love at first sight

Perhaps you have seen a total stranger from across a room and fantasized about spending the rest of your life with them, despite having never exchanged one word. If we are to follow logic that is all-too-often employed in film, falling in love at first sight is the preferred method of courtship.

At lease some movies are honest about its pitfalls — just ask Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who almost sealed his own doom when he fell for Vegas hustler Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) in "Casino" (1995).

2. Always kiss on the first date

Sure, romantic dinner scenes are cute. But making out scenes are hot! It seems like every first date in the movies ends with a passionate kiss, "Anchorman" included, no matter how that date actually went.

In "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995), Jimmy 'The Saint' Tosnia actually has a rule about not kissing on the first date ... but since Jimmy the Saint is a movie character in a movie, he finds a way to break that rule with the completely kissable Dagney (Gabrielle Anwar).

3. Heck, while you're at it, consummate the relationship on the first date

Gonna kiss on the first date? Might as well just have sex, too. In "Trainspotting" (1996), Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Diane (Kelly Macdonald) actually skip the first date entirely and just go right to the making out and sex.

4. Smoke a cigarette in bed

Nothing signifies two people enjoying post-coital bliss quite like having them smoke a cigarette in bed together. Well, in the case of "Kingpin" (1996), maybe only one participant in the aforementioned coitus is in a state of bliss ... the other might be throwing up.

5. Engage in a Love Montage

Being in love means you do a lot of random activities together! The greatest example of this silly trope comes courtesy of "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (1988), in which Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) engage in enough cute activities to fill an entire week ... over the course of one single day.

Sometimes these montages can be on a different film stock, too, like in "Raging Bull" (1980):

6. Break up

All good things must come to an end ... at least for a little while. Take heed of what we learned from "The Break-Up" (2006): Ann Arbor is not the ballet, every girl likes flowers (even if they say they don't) and video games are stupid-ass.

Then again, if you don't have to spend another second in the company of a serial killer, maybe breaking up isn't so hard to do after all, as seen here in "American Psycho" (2000):

And remember, if you're a guy, it's okay if you cheat — even though the breakup is usually only temporary.

7. Engage in a Lonely Montage

After a break-up, it's time for a melencholy period of self-reflection. This is usually done whilst wandering aimlessly through the streets of whatever town the character lives in -- or, if not aimlessly, then whilst wandering from shop to shop, as disillusioned Cher (Alicia Silverstone) does in "Clueless" (1995).

8. Engage in a Public Declaration of Love

Declaring your love for someone in an attempt to win them back seems to have more credibility when it's done in public ... or, in the case of "Say Anything ..." (1989), at least within earshot of the public.

9. Make Up

It’s easy to do, especially when you're armed with a witty script written by someone who's had time to figure out just the right thing to say when it comes to making someone stop being mad at you and commence with the making out again. Usually this takes less than five minutes of screen time, as is the case in "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) ... and adding a little rain never hurts, either, as we saw in "The Notebook" (2004).

For the record, sometimes those witty, romantic words are just for the benefit of the audience -- as Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) says to Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) in "Jerry Maguire" (1996), "You had me at hello."

10. Live Happily Ever After

And finally, after all that, two people can commence with the rest of their lives together, where their love will stay just as strong and passionate throughout the years as it is in their final scene.

Really, though, who would dare question the power of love in movies? In "Moonstruck" (1987), Loretta (Cher) lost her fiance and gained another over the course of about ten seconds — and with the same ring, too.

It's worth noting that Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) portrays every single one of these aforementioned steps in "Anchorman" (2004).